Anyone can be religious, being a religious person doesn't make you a Christian or a committed follower of Jesus Christ. Religion is people doing or believing something out of obligation or belief system that may or may not be true, and also maybe keeping some traditions, or doing some rituals, or having some basic beliefs, but religion doesn't save you and religion doesn't grow or mature faith in Christ.
Only a relationship with Jesus Christ after accepting His gift and process of salvation is not only what saves you, but helps you grow in your faith and commitment to God. Religion has you jumping through hoops and going through the motions, while a relationship is something that can be nurtured, grown, and deepened.
God doesn't want a bunch of religious people, God wants to have a relationship with each of us. God sent His son Jesus to pay the penalty of our sins, so that we could have an opportunity to have a relationship with Him. Through Jesus and only through Jesus can you and me have forgiveness of sins, access to God, salvation, and be right in the eyes of God. If we accept this gift and are baptized into Christ, we receive this gift of salvation and also the Holy Spirit of God.
God gave us His Son, He gives us His Spirit, and He allows us to be a part of His Church body and a child of His, and religion or being religious does none of those things, only our commitment to our relationship with Him. Imagine you treated your earthly relationships like religion and not relationships, how would they look like? God doesn't want our empty words, rituals, sacrifices, or habitual routines, what He wants is us. He wants to have a personal and intimate relationship with His children. We need to enter a relationship with Jesus and then develop and deepen that relationship by getting to know Him more and more every day.
We build our relationship with Jesus by spending time with Him through our reading and study of the Word of God(the Bible), through our prayer life and talking to God often and regularly, through our worship, service, and participation in the body of Christ as a member (the Church) and also through the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. There are lots of ways to have and build our relationship with God.
I want to encourage and challenge you today to choose relationship over religion. Don't gamble with your salvation or eternity thinking being a religious person or having religious beliefs, or doing religious things will save your or get you to heaven. Only a relationship with and through Jesus Christ will we be saved and experience God.
May you discover, develop, or deepen that relationship with the Son of God today!
2 Peter 3:18(NIV)
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.